Head Start program cut due to violations, 150 people to lose jobs

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- More than 150 employees will lose their jobs in Milwaukee because federal funding for the Head Start Program has been cut due to "multiple licensing violations" by the Social Development Commission (SDC).

The Head Start Program is a federal initiative dedicated to giving low-income, pre-school students a "head start" in education.

"We have been making such a positive impact with families and children over the last 20 years, that it`s just truly sad to see this come to an end," said Fredricka Patrick Turnage, SDC center coordinator.

However, the Federal Administration for Children and Families pulled more than $20 million from the program operated by the SDC, citing "multiple licensing violations," including two incidents where children were left unattended on buses.

According to a letter sent to the SDC from federal officials, there have been 76 health violations and four child safety deficiencies at Milwaukee's Head Start Program from February 2013 to May 2013. The SDC is currently appealing the cut in funding.

"We need to look at the actual factual basis were for the decision and that will determine how the appeal will be formulated," said James Hall, the SDC's attorney.

There are currently 3,000 children who receive Head Start schooling at the SDC and Turnage fears the negative effects the program's absence may have on its students.

"I`m just concerned about those children and families that are going to be out there now," Turnage said.

However, Hall said those students will be able to find alternative providers of the Head Start Program.

"There are other providers who are part of the process and we would hope and expect that kids and families would continue to be served," Hall added.